How to ensure ABM pilot success

Mini Mighty ABM

This article is part of the Mini Mighty ABM series where we ask top experts in ABM to share one actionable idea that you can use at work today. These tips are mini, but mighty. For more, visit ABM Revealed.

Don’t forget to personalize. That’d be my top recommendation if we met in an elevator and you told me you were in the middle of an ABM pilot. Most people say they’re about to begin a pilot or are in the middle of one that’s producing mixed results and one of the top reasons it’s not working better is that they failed to personalize the messaging and content. I get it: Personalization requires insights, strategy, data, and time. But all too often, it falls by the wayside and tanks the results in the process.

Don’t just load the old email spam cannon or sick your SDRs on prospects with LinkedIn connect invites. Relevance equals revenue. When you actually personalize messaging, B2B conversions go through the roof.

3 steps to diagnose your personalization problem:

Re-scope your pilot

If personalization feels overwhelming, it’s possible that you’ve scoped the pilot wrong and it’s too expansive or involves too many personalization segments. The goal with an ABM pilot is simply to test the rocket, not to build the whole space shuttle. Look at your target account list again for most salient similarities and differences and think about ways you can personalize those segments. Are they all customers? Are they all prospects? Are they in a renewal state? Do they share a vertical or need?

Once you’ve got those factors, select segments for your pilot to personalize your messaging, content, and creative. It narrows a limitless expanse of possibility down to just four or five key points that’ll help you engage those target accounts.

Common ways to segment:

  • Industry
  • Business need
  • Use case
  • Case study
  • Buyer role

    Look at your data again

    The next step is to say, okay, I’ve got these five or six personalization dimensions (think: data fields) I can personalize. Do I actually have the data to do it? Do I reliably know whether I’m talking to a healthcare or retail company? Look through the list, check websites, and record what you find. If you can’t reliably know that the industry is correct for every account in your segment, it’ll screw up your personalization, and with such a small sample, you can’t have that.

    Use a data vendor you already partner with to clean and append missing or dirty data. Or, if the target account list is small enough, do it by hand. You don’t have to fix all your data—again, stay in scope—just fix it for the ten or 100 accounts in your pilot.

    Re-launch your personalization

    The next question is, depending on your current technology stack, where can you personalize? Can you do emails? Website copy? Microsite pages? In-app messages? Ads? Direct mail? Outbound call scripts? There’s no one single way to personalize, and big content assets like e-books and white papers don’t have to be deeply specific to each account (especially if you’re doing a one-to-few ABM campaign). Verticalizing what already exists is a good start.

    If you’re truly pressed for resources, you can give old content a new, personalized veneer, like giving an e-book a healthcare cover versus a retail cover. Then, personalize the simpler content like emails and ads to the account or person.

    My rule of thumb: Always work with what you’ve already got. There is almost never a need to buy and implement brand new technology for an ABM pilot. Save your money and political capital for the scale phase after you’ve proven success with your pilot.

    Common personalization channels:

  • Email
  • Landing pages
  • SDR scripts, emails, battle cards
  • Website or microsite pages
  • Content experience hubs
  • E-books or white papers
  • Display ads
  • Direct mail
  • Promotion ideas

    My actionable takeaway:

    If personalization feels overwhelming, it’s possible that you’ve mis-scoped your pilot. Pick a smaller target account list with more shared personalization segments, check your data, and personalize with what you have.

  • John Common

    CEO | Founder, Intelligent Demand

    John Common is Intelligent Demand’s CEO and Founder. He has spent more than 20 years working at the intersection of growth strategy, technology, marketing, sales, and customer success in a variety of executive roles. His entire career has been focused on creating measurable revenue growth—both from inside the org and outside, as a trusted agency partner.